Thursday, December 23, 2010


As the snowstorm rages outside our cottage, we're all huddled around the fireplace, watching the landscape turn powdery white, the trees' dark branches becoming thickly outlined with snow. I won't be posting recipes while on our winter break, but I hope to see you back again in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday everyone!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I finally did it! I bought a self-freezing ice cream machine, an upgrade from my ten year old machine that required a pre-frozen canister. A few weeks ago, I checked out the new kitchen supplies superstore close to my neighborhood. The place was so huge, well-stocked with absolutely everything, and displayed so tastefully that I just had to buy something for my already jam-packed kitchen. Did I really need one more appliance, one more gadget? (Do I really need that gorgeous bag, those beautiful pumps?) So when the store clerk said that there was only one Cuisinart machine left on stock, I knew that was a sign. Here's one nostalgic flavor recently churned from my appliance du jour, adapted from David Lebovitz's fanastic ice cream cookbook, The Perfect Scoop.

Orange Popsicle Ice Cream

1 cup sugar
grated zest of 2 oranges
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 5 oranges)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup full cream milk
1/4 cup thick cream
2 teaspoons Cointreau

Blend orange zest and sugar in a blender until very fine. Add orange juice, sour cream, milk, cream and Cointreau and blend until sugar is dissolved.

Chill the mixture in the freezer for about 2 hours, then freeze it in the ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Makes about 1 liter.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stir Fry

I think I've found my go-to stir fry sauce, which combines the sweet-salty-spicy triumvirate of tastes. I've used prawns and broccoli in this recipe, but the sauce is versatile enough for any combination of meat and vegetables or tofu.

As in western cooking, use a good quality of Chinese wine. I initially asked my grocer for the cheapest rice wine, and he looked at me with a frown. He gave me a bottle of wine called Hua Tiao Chiew, a 5 year vintage shao hsing from China. Splash it on steamed fish, he says, and you'll taste the difference. His grandmother kept herself able-bodied by drinking a shot of warm hua tiao chiew with sour plum. My grandfather preferred his daily bottle of beer (or two), happily singing Cielito Lindo every afternoon as we came home from school.

There isn't enough wine in the recipe to make you swoon, but the flavors certainly will.

Prawns and Broccoli in Black Bean Garlic Sauce
adapted from Chinese Cooking by Willie Mark

1 kilo fresh medium prawns, shelled and deveined
2 egg whites, whisked lightly
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons Chinese wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 onion, largely diced
4 spring onions, diced
2-3 fresh green long chilies, minced
2 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
6 cloves garlic, minced

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets and blanched

2 tablespoons black bean paste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock
sesame oil

Marinate the prawns in a bowl of egg whites, cornstarch, wine, salt and pepper, making sure all the prawns are coated evenly. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.

Pour about 1/2 cup of peanut or canola oil in a wok on high heat. Flash fry the prawns and remove from wok immediately when they just turn pink. Set aside.

Remove the excess oil from the wok and leave about 2 tablespoons to saute the onions, chilies, ginger and garlic on medium heat. When fragrant, pour in the bean paste, soy sauce and sugar. Mix well, increase the heat and add the prawns and the broccoli, stirring continuously. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry. Sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil and serve.

Serves 6.